His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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How do you read the Bible?

It’s so hard to be objective. As much as I try to look at something without a preconceived notion, I still end up having some kind of bias. It works like this: we first get an idea or belief in our heads, and then look for evidence to prove our belief is correct.

This is not the scientific method of objectivity. In science the method is to first come up with a theory and then by way of experiments and research, objectively look at the evidence to see what it tells you about your theory; finally drawing conclusions from the evidence, not from the original theory itself. The objective scientific method is NOT coming up with a theory and then looking for specific evidence that proves your theory; that would be coming to a conclusion before looking at the evidence.

Yet we all do this – it’s not unique to scientists. For example, I have a friend at work who is a vegetarian. He told me that he was in the process of searching through the Bible, looking for passages that support his theory that God calls us all to be vegetarians. An apparently harmless example, yet it illustrates a dangerous approach to reading the Bible.

I’m not immune. I recently went on a similar quest of my own. It pains me to believe that many people who I dearly love are doomed to eternity in hell, because of their lack of faith. So I came up with a theory, which goes like this: what if hell is not the end? What if hell is more of a refining process, where impurities are finally and totally burned off? Then once clean, the formerly lost soul can come to heaven? Yet as much as I loved the idea, I could not find supporting evidence in the Bible. But I looked… long and hard. Fortunately for me, I was objective enough to admit that the evidence I longed for was not to be found. I reluctantly accepted the truth.

Not everyone is able to be so objective. For example, consider the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who believe and loudly preach that God hates America, and “fags”, and all kinds of other people who they do not even know. And they believe that the Bible supports them.

In trying to be objective myself, and realizing that I can definitely be wrong in my thinking, I went on a search of my own, looking for the evidence that is claimed by those at the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). This is why I haven’t written in this blog for a while; I’ve been busy pouring through my Bible.

Well, as you may already know, I could not find the evidence – I guess I just don’t read the Bible like those at the WBC. However I found something other than evidence; I found some understanding. I feel I clearly understand why people come to their own conclusions about what God has to say, and about whom God may hate, without objectively looking at the evidence. In reading the Bible, many people do so not with their eyes and ears open, but with a mind closed by ego, arrogance, pride.

Out of their arrogance and pride, people tend to want to make God into their image. Hate-filled people will want to make a hate-filled God. People who believe homosexuality is not a sin, will want to make a God who believes as they do. Some are more blatant than others, but we are all susceptible to this temptation of effectively placing ourselves above God.

What might Jesus say about succumbing to this temptation? As Paul told the Corinthians: “Do not go beyond what is written.” (1 Corinthians 4:6) And as Jesus said to Peter, “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:33)